Can a hand doctor help with trigger finger?
If one of your fingers is locked in a bent position, or if you feel pain and a popping sensation when you straighten the digit, you need a professional evaluation.
Hand doctors typically consider a range of treatment options, depending upon the severity and duration of the finger problem.
Rest and Medication
Rest is often the initial treatment for mild cases of trigger finger. Avoiding activities that require repeated gripping and refraining from using vibrating hand-held machinery may be enough to relieve symptoms.
For patients with pain, a hand doctor may recommend over-the-counter medication. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen are usually effective at relieving finger pain and stiffness.
If symptoms are more severe, a corticosteroid injection is frequently considered the treatment of choice.
Injecting a steroid medication into or near the tendon sheath relaxes the finger stiffness and allows the digit to glide freely again. A single injection can often resolve the problem, but some patients may require a second visit to the hand doctor for another dose.
Splinting has a reputation as an ineffective treatment for trigger finger, but studies have shown that wearing a custom-made splint for 6 to 10 weeks can improve symptoms.
Custom-made splinting typically holds the middle joint of the affected finger in a slightly bent position, about 10 to 15 degrees of flexion. A hand doctor may advise using a splint in addition to or instead of corticosteroid injections.
Trigger Finger Release Surgery
Trigger digits can usually be successfully managed through the use of local steroid injections and splinting. However, when these conservative measures fail to correct the problem, a hand doctor may recommend surgery.
Trigger finger release is an outpatient procedure that is done under a local anesthetic. Working through a small palm incision — around 1 or 2 centimeters — a hand surgeon cuts and widens the opening of the tendon sheath tunnel. After the tunnel has healed, the tendon has the extra space it needs to move freely.
Complete recovery can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. But most patients are able to move the affected finger immediately after surgery. If finger stiffness was severe before the procedure, physical therapy or hand exercises may be advised.
Don’t put off treating your trigger finger — without proper care from an experienced hand doctor, you may end up with permanent stiffness, pain and an inability to straighten the affected digit. The sooner you seek out professional advice, the sooner you’ll regain hand function.
For expert treatment for all types of hand and finger problems, residents of northern Utah rely on the professionals at the Center of Orthopedic & Rehabilitation Excellence. To meet with Dr. J. Douglas Burrows, a highly skilled hand doctor with expertise in tendon conditions, contact our West Valley City office and schedule a trigger finger consultation today.